Who are we?

Between April 2000 and July 2011 we, Herman and Yvonne, owned Soekershof in Robertson. We restored and extended this historical botanical garden (with the oldest cactus -Anno 1910- of South Africa) and ended up with one of the world’s largest outdoor collections (>2600 species/subspecies/varieties/etc) of succulent plants including cacti. The garden was globally recognized in botanical/horticultural circles (except seemingly in South Africa). We were very honored when all the sponsors and the management of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix (USA) spend a day with us on their tour along all known South African botanical gardens and even more honored when they published about their South Africa tour and unanimously declared Soekershof as “Best Garden Experience” in South Africa. One of the ‘green finger’ journalists of The Sunday Times in the UK visited several botanical gardens in the Western Cape on invitation of the organisation that exploits the ‘official’ state financed botanical gardens and heard at a guesthouse about Soekershof; that was “the last but not least; in fact the best” garden she wrote about in her article. For the same newspaper Irish landscaper and TV-personality Diarmuid Gavin who is also involved in the Chelsea Flower Show, came to the same conclusion but also added that he now knows where the people behind the South African Chelsea exhibition get their ideas from……

It was hard work; 7 days per week from 6AM to 10PM and all together we had in those 11 years 2 weeks holiday. We even succeeded in maintaining the first blog in South Africa with guidelines about water wise gardening with succulent plants. The blog is still online and still foresees in a need although we stopped submitting new items since the sale of the farm.

But there was more. South Africans are great story-tellers and the best stories always have some truth in it. This combined with the name Soekershof (= Seekers Garden) inspired us to create a maze with stories visualized with objects towering above the hedges as orientating points. Thanks to a lack of knowledge it became a truly unique hedge-maze; not only in size (with over 13,000 sqm about the largest of its kind in the world) but also the layout with, instead of one traditional centre, several resting areas. The different gaps in the 10 hectare large property were filled with amongst others a philosophers garden and a nursery. We also had an empowerment program with two local craftsmen having their own workshops and both making money. Our own staff plus the two artisans were also involved in a land art project that included the ‘famous’ Stone Age Cinema and the gigantic earthwork ‘Mama Africa’. Within South Africa there was however no interest in this project until an American land art artist builded a huge bird nest (later copied in Cape Town) …… but by than potential buyers turned up on a Sunday afternoon and 4 days later Soekershof was sold…

The new owners (German/Italian couple) are not really gardeners. The garden, still beautiful though, serves now as ‘decoration’ for their guest house and restaurant but the number of different plants has strongly declined. Plants need care; especially water wise plants. Anyway with our removal we took our private collection of (merely) rare plants with us to Stanford. We still love gardening but also a more quiet “Quality of Life”. And we love Stanford!!!!

_DSC2365web_DSC2943web

Advertisements

Pirate of the Klein Rivier

_DSC3044web

A family day at the lagoon

_DSC2910web

And again..

A ‘veld fire’ is not so easy to distinguish; up to 14 days afterwards it can flare up from underground. That’s what happend here this afternoon 2 days after. Luckily the local fire brigade was on standby (for checking up purposes) on a nearby farm. Now (Friday Feb 1 at almost 6 PM; a few hours after the flames popped up again it looks like this fire is under control for the time being….

_DSC2835web

Stanford, South Africa

Stanford, South Africa.

via Stanford, South Africa.

A Walk on the Green Side Greetings from Stanford

_DSC2818web